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Sixty-Something: Full Moons, Shooting Stars, And The Atlantic Ocean

T.J. Clemente

A full moon rising over East Hampton, taken from author's sailboat out in Gardiner's Bay. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

Full moons and shooting stars over the Atlantic Ocean have a power. The moon slowly rises over the horizon, colored with a soothing sundrenched orange seeming to be as big as Jupiter. As it rises higher into the night sky, it gets smaller in size - but so much brighter against the darkness of night.

Whereas a shooting star's surprising streaks across the night sky makes you wonder what was that as it then disappears. The fleeting feeling is a unique experience of both power and wonder. Those who live on the East End of Long Island have all found themselves both under the spell of a full moon and the wonderment of a shooting star more than once.

In my lifetime, through failure, I had the good fortune to live right off the ocean in Montauk. Divorce and then a short career in financial services, with the office in Manhattan located on the 23rd floor of the famous Grace Building on 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue, across from Bryant Park, produced a whirlwind of productive and emotional times. The five years of that adventure fueled my first novel, Whistling Past the Hottie Graveyard, (available on Amazon) but all that ended after 9/11/2001. The tragic events of that day and the following neighborhood anthrax affair that followed made me decide to leave living in Manhattan and seek the solace and safety of living full-time on the East End and also pursue a writing career. East Hampton became home.

The natural beauty of the East End was instantly apparent, but its power was more of a slow process of metamorphosis. My first few months living in East Hampton had me living in a sailboat during the summer day to day until I found something affordable after the season. My NYC roommate kept asking; should he renew the lease on the 83rd and Second Ave. apartment in Manhattan? He was getting married in California and was going to start his new life in San Francisco. I told him to let the lease end.

In New York City, you just don't see the stars and the moon only peeks through the space between the very tall buildings. However, in East Hampton the nightly stars and full moons reign supreme over a forever flowing night sky. While walking my beagle on Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk almost every night for four years, even the beagle would pause, then sit, and look out at the moon. On one of those nights, I came up with this saying: "Looking up at a clear dark night of stars over the ocean lets you know how much you will never know."

A few times a year - if the weather cooperates - while sailing in Gardiner's Bay in the late summer one can catch the sun setting and the full moon rising at the same moment. Since nightly sunset sailing is what I do, I have seen this sight perhaps once or twice a year over the last 17 years. You just cannot capture the total mass and power of the moments of a setting sun and a rising full moon with the breadth and lens of a camera. It's just never quite same.

I met my wife Cindi in Sag Harbor on an April full moon night. Afterwards, she had to drive home to Patchoque and me to Montauk. When I arrived in Montauk, I parked the car at the beach and called her to see if she made it home safely, as I said I would. We talked as people who become mates talk that first night. Then I saw a shooting star over the Atlantic, away from that night's full moon and told her about it. These special moments are what makes a life a life.

The shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean has known human's footprints planted in its cool evening sands, gazing out at its horizon as long as there has been man. When a full moon slowly rises, I often think about the ancient men, women, and children whose worldly knowledge was very limited and days were very hard. I wonder what they wondered about, what did they think, how did a full moon over the ocean affect them? Did they feel the power of shooting stars, full moons over the Atlantic, as we do? It is usually at such moments I feel a kinship with all the people who have ever lived on this planet. We all have stared at a beautiful full moon.

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